Debt Needs to Be Addressed Before Retiring

GoBankingRates finds that needing to pay off credit card and other debt is a major roadblock to retirement saving.

Forty-two percent of Americans surveyed by GOBankingRates said they would save more for retirement if they could eliminate their debt.

Those closest to retirement—Baby Boomers (55%)—are more apt to say they would save more for retirement if they could pay off their debt, followed by adults ages 45 through 54. Women are more likely than men to say this—44% vs.38%, respectively.

The survey found that even though the age group with the most average debt—i.e., over $68,000—are those 35 through 44, respondents ages 55 through 64 and 65 and older still have high average debt—over $53,000 and over $48,000, respectively. In addition, while 44% of respondents overall blamed not earning enough for their being in debt—the No. 1 response overall—Americans who are supposed to be in their peak earning years were more likely to cite this reason for their debt. Half of respondents 45 through 54, followed by 48% of those 55 and older blamed their debt on low income.

The debt that respondents said they want to eliminate most is credit card debt, with nearly 33% checking off this type. The 65-and-up group had the highest percentage of respondents who said they wanted to eliminate credit card debt, at 47%.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents overall said they think they’ll be in debt forever. The two  oldest groups of respondents were even more pessimistic, with 34% in both age groups saying they doubted they’ll ever get out of debt.

An analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found employees are not realizing the importance of controlling debt as part of retirement planning.

GOBankingRates polled 5,003 adults on October 9. More survey results can be viewed here.